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Syrian airstrikes kill civilians while Russia talks peace

Civilians in Douma have been bombed repeatedly over the past several years [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 November, 2015

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The beleaguered Damascus suburb of Douma has been hit by a fresh round of Syrian air raids, while Russia has accused some countries of 'evading' peace negotiations.

Hundreds of civilians were killed or wounded in a fierce bombardment of a besieged Damascus suburb by regime forces on Tuesday morning, according to a local media activist.

"A number of civilians were killed and close to 100 injured," said Yaser al-Fawwal. "Ten of them have lost limbs, and that number might increase."

   
Watch video: Footage is from the aftermath of a 7 November attack on Douma [AFP]
The Coordination Committee of Douma described the bombardment of the town as "insane", and said it would later confirm the numbers of dead and wounded.

The suburb was reportedly hit by mortar shells and cluster rockets, a new weapon Russia has apparently supplied to the regime.

Douma has been under siege by regime forces for more than two years, and has been repeatedly bombed by regime forces, and, more recently, by Russian aircraft.

An attack on the suburb by regime and Russian warplanes on Saturday killed 24 civilians and wounded dozens of others.

The latest casualty toll adds to the 70 who were killed and 550 injured in a late October attack on the town.

Doctors Without Borders said the suburb's medical facilities were being overwhelmed by the numbers of injured and the seriousness of the injuries.

The organisation said almost a million people were trapped in beseiged rebel-held enclaves around Damascus.

Russia criticises 'evasion' of negotiations

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that countries would soon hold "enlarged" talks on the Syrian conflict, accusing some of trying to evade negotiations.

Speaking in the Armenian capital, Lavrov said the list of players attempting to find common ground over the conflict that has killed at least 250,000 people has grown since last month's unprecedented talks in Vienna.

"There will be another meeting in the nearest future in an enlarged format... that is about 20 countries and organisations," he said.

The Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation will join the table, at which already sits the US, France and Iran, to continue discussing possibilities of a political settlement for Syria after more than four years of fighting.

Making progress ahead of the next meeting was difficult, due to some countries' attempts to "evade" doing the work required, said Lavrov.

"A whole range of our partners are still trying to evade concrete work, the talks, and to limit the issue to abstract calls on the necessity of President Assad's departure," Lavrov said, calling it an approach that distracted from work that brought solid results.

Moscow has been carrying out a bombing campaign in Syria since September 30, when it said it would strike terrorist targets to support the offensive of Bashar al-Assad's army.

But the US and some other countries involved in the conflict say Moscow is making the situation worse by targeting groups that oppose Assad, rather than focusing on the Islamic State group (IS) and other jihadists.

Washington last week cautioned Moscow against using its airforce "to stiffen the Assad regime's resistance to a political transition".

Lavrov said that Moscow had already shared "our list of terrorist organisations" with its partners, and expects that a new round of talks would come up with a "unified list, so that there are no issues about who is striking whom and who is supporting whom".

In Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met with a delegation of Syria's tolerated opposition National Coordination Committee, led by Hassan Abdel Azim, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

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